JPML to Consider Future of Acetaminophen Autism and ADHD Lawsuits Following Hearing Today

Walmart and other retailers oppose consolidating the federal acetaminophen lawsuits brought by families of children diagnosed with autism and ADHD, while plaintiffs indicate that centralization is necessary to avoid duplicate discovery and conflicting rulings.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard oral arguments today over whether it should establish coordinated pretrial proceedings in the federal court system for all acetaminophen autism and ADHD lawsuits, which involve common allegations that inadequate warnings were provided about risks associated with the active ingredient in Tylenol for pregnant women.

Dozens of complaints have been filed against various manufacturers and retailers of pain medications containing acetaminophen, alleging that exposure during pregnancy caused children to develop ADHD, autism and other disabilities. However, the lawsuits are currently spread throughout a number of different U.S. District Courts, which may result in inconsistent pretrial schedules, duplicative discovery and other problems during the management of the litigation.

In the coming weeks and months, the size and scope of the litigation is expected to increase dramatically, and could include several thousand lawsuits brought by families nationwide.

Tylenol Autism Lawsuit

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In June, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion requesting the centralization of all acetaminophen lawsuits over ADHD and autism, indicating that the cases brought throughout the federal court system should be centralized before one judge for discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Manufacturers have opposed the request, arguing in a responses (PDF) that each of the claims will involve highly specific questions about the individual pregnant woman’s use of different acetaminophen products, and the unique issues involving alternative causes of autism and ADHD.

Questions were also raised in the oppositions filed by retailers about the decision by plaintiffs to file the request prior to the filing of any Tylenol lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, suggesting that the decision was intended to control the venue for where the cases may be centralized.

The competing arguments were considered by a panel of judges today during a Hearing Session (PDF) held at the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri.

Within the next few weeks, it is expected that the U.S. JPML will decide where the acetaminophen autism and ADHD lawsuits will be managed in the future, or whether each case will proceed on a separate schedule in different U.S. District Courts nationwide.

Acetaminophen ADHD, Autism Risks

The litigation comes in the wake of recent studies that have highlighted the risk that prenatal exposure to Tylenol increases the autism and ADHD risks.

In October 2019, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry found that children with the highest levels of acetaminophen metabolites in their blood at birth had the highest risk of the developmental disorders.

According to additional research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in June 2021, children exposed to Tylenol during pregnancy were 19% more likely to have autism spectrum disorders and 21% more likely to have ADHD symptoms compared to non-exposed children.

Due to the potential acetaminophen pregnancy risks, researchers from Columbia University warned that doctors should re-evaluate the role of the pain medication for pregnant women in 2020, after finding that prenatal exposure may lead to impaired neurodevelopment in the fetus.

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Find Out If Your Family Is Eligible for a Tylenol Lawsuit

Autism and ADHD settlements may be available for children exposed to acetaminophen-based pain medication during pregnancy.



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